Isn’t it great when you think you knew about something only to find out that someone else has showed up with a different answer? Well, I hate to admit it but I think it’s been done to us again. Did you know the FIRST flying of the official American flag was a small 1777 campground in Middlebrook, New Jersey? TRUE.
Where Was That First American Flag Flown?
MIDDLEBROOK in BRIDGEWATER, NEW JERSEY!
So you’re driving back and forth to work, down 287 then east to Route 22 day in and day out never thinking that just off the highway on the hillside by Vosseller Avenue is a small 16 acre property that has the distinct honor of being the first official site to fly what we all refer to as “old glory.”
Middlebrook is a tiny section of land recognized as part of Bridgewater, New Jersey just south of Martinsville (another section of Bridgewater). It’s just north of Bound Brook. It was on a warm “almost summer day” on June 14, 1777 that the Continental Army hoisted America’s first official flag after the Continental Congress approved the flag on June 14, 1777, know to America as Flag Day.
At the time of the Declaration of Independence in July 1776, the Continental Congress would not legally adopt flags with “stars, white in a blue field” for another year. The flag contemporaneously known as “the Continental Colors” has historically been referred to as the first national flag.
Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey, a naval flag designer, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, designed the 1777 flag while he was the Chairman of the Continental Navy Board’s Middle Department, sometime between his appointment to that position in November 1776 and the time that the flag resolution was adopted in June 1777. The Navy Board was under the Continental Marine Committee. Not only did Hopkinson claim that he designed the U.S. flag, but he also claimed that he designed a flag for the U.S. Navy. Hopkinson was the only person to have made such a claim during his own life when he sent a letter and several bills to Congress for his work. These claims are documented in the Journals of the Continental Congress and George Hasting’s biography of Hopkinson.
On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed the Flag Resolution which stated:
Flag Day is now observed on June 14 of each year. While scholars still argue about this, tradition holds that the new flag was first hoisted in June 1777 by the Continental Army at the Middlebrook encampment.”
John Hopkinson Had Some Help – Hint: George Washington
History tells us George Washington’s Commander-in-Chief Flag was the personal standard of the Commander of the Continental Army everywhere he went. The presence of the flag meant George Washington was there. … It is unique due to its 6-pointed stars and was allegedly designed by Washington himself. So Hopkinson’s flag is really George Washington’s flag along with 13 red and white stripes. Go figure.
George Washington was chosen unanimously by Congress as Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army on June 19, 1775. He assumed command of the Continental Army on July 3, 1775. The presence of the Commander-In-Chief flag below meant George Washington was there! Kind of like the Queen of England flag right?
On a visit to the Betsy Ross Museum I had the pleasure to meet Betsy Ross and she showed us why a five pointed star is more efficient to make vs. a 6 pointed star. Seems the five pointed star can be made with less cuts. Legend has it that when the George Washington and his associates first approached Betsy Ross regarding the creation of an American flag, their design used 6-pointed stars. Betsy suggested five-pointed stars instead. When the committee protested that these would be too difficult to make, Betsy is said to have taken a piece of paper, folded it deftly, and with a single snip of her scissors, produced a symmetrical five-pointed star, so impressing her audience with this feat of seamstress magic that they readily agreed to her suggestion. But Hopkinson didn’t agree and made his flag with the six pointed star.
Hey Somerset County, Middlebrook is Right in Your Backyard
The Washington Campground is 20 acres situated between Hillside Road and Middlebrook Road in the northern section of Middlebrook, a part of northeastern Bridgewater, New Jersey. Just north of Route 22 lies the campground, the flagpole, and the first officially recorded site of the flying of the American flag.
Every Year on Independence Day – We call it “Jersey’s Gift to America”
Go see the best Independence Day celebration ever. Only 1 hour. Usually starts at about 10:30am.
The ceremony starts with retiring the flag which has flown over the park for the last year and raising a new one.
- Master of Ceremonies Greetings
- Retire Old Colors
- Presentation of Colors
- National Anthem – “Star-Spangled Banner”
- Pledge of Allegiance
- Declaration of Independence Reading
- Closing Remarks
Fundraiser: Get a Hopkinson Flag
Help Support Our Local History
- On June 14 (Flag Day) in 1992, the United States Postal Service honored Hopkinson as the “Father of the Stars and Stripes” with a commemorative pictorial postmark showing the flag seen above.
- The City of Philadelphia, Edward G. Rendell Mayor, issued a proclamation making September 21, 1992 Francis Hopkinson Day in honor of this “…great American leader” who “is also credited with designing the first official United States flag”. Sept. 21 is Hopkinson’s birthday.
- Francis Hopkinson’s memorial marker is in the Christ Church Burial Ground in Philadelphia, PA
- Fly your own Hopkinson American Flag and Support Local History Efforts
- Join the Washington Camp Ground Association
- The Washington Campground Association
- The Annin’s of Liberty Corner: Patriots, Flag Company and a Middle School
- The American Flag Means Annin in Liberty Corner
- The American Flagman Honors Patriotism Everyday
- Speaking about flags: How about the History of The Bernards Township Flag